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Keywords:

  • exercise-induced stridor;
  • vascular ring;
  • vocal cord dysfunction

This manuscript describes two interesting patients who had exercise-induced symptoms that unmasked an alternative underlying diagnosis. The first is an 8-year-old boy who was treated for asthma all his life but really had exercise-induced stridor (labelled as wheeze) causing significant exercise limitation, which was due to a double aortic arch with the right arch compressing the trachea. The second case describes the diagnosis of vocal cord dysfunction in a 13-year-old anxious high achiever. He also initially had exercise-induced symptoms treated as exercise-induced wheeze but again had a stridor due to vocal cord dysfunction. Both these cases demonstrate the importance of detailed history including during exercise, which can unmask alternative diagnosis. Another important message is that if there is no response to bronchodilator treatment with absence of typical signs and symptoms of asthma, alternative diagnosis should be considered.